Steve Lavin, D'Angelo Harrison

St. John’s without head coach Steve Lavin for tonight’s game at No. 12 Louisville

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St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will not be on the sidelines tonight when the Red Storm visit No. 12 Louisville, as he’s with family in northern California making funeral arrangements following the passing of his father, Cap.

Assistant coach Rico Hines, who led the Red Storm on Sunday at No. 6 Syracuse, takes the reins for the second consecutive game and faces the arduous task of not only matching coaching wits with Rick Pitino but getting a young St. John’s team over the hump in what has been a draining six-week stretch.

After winning five straight games the Red Storm have lost two of their last three, with a win over Connecticut sandwiched in between losses at Georgetown and Syracuse. Following tonight’s game St. John’s doesn’t play another game until February 20 against South Florida, which will give this young group much-needed time to not only recuperate physically but also mentally.

Louisville is five days removed from their quintuple-overtime loss at No. 21 Notre Dame, and given their ability to force turnovers St. John’s will need to take better care of the basketball than they did at Syracuse on Sunday (16 turnovers). With players such as D’Angelo Harrison and Jakarr Sampson the Red Storm are skilled enough to rebound, but the question is whether or not they have enough left in the tank emotionally to do so.

St. John’s released the following statement from Lavin on Tuesday:

“We are grateful for the heartfelt encouragement, prayers and support received since our father’s passing. The thoughtful sentiments and caring messages we received via text, Twitter, e-mail and voicemail from friends, current players, former players, colleagues and college basketball fans have helped to give our family an emotional lift during a challenging time in our lives.

“Moving forward, it will now be the inspiring memories of my father that will serve as a catalyst to pursue better ways to navigate the ‘bittersweet miracle that is life’.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: